My home state of Queensland is blessed with many things – glorious beaches, lush rainforest, pristine national parks and gorgeous weather. One thing we’re not so happy about having is the cane toad.
This creature invades our yards in the summer. They excrete poison from glands on their backs and destroy native environments. They are a dangerous pest.
A dog’s natural instinct is to attack these toads, and the first thing they do is sink their upper mouth onto the toad’s poisonous glands. For some small dogs, this is fatal. For others, like my dog Sage, it made her sick and caused an emergency visit to the animal hospital.
You would think after that instance that Sage would have learnt her lesson and would not try to attack a cane toad again. I was wrong. Sage is a Japanese hunting dog, a shiba inu, and her instincts tell her to attack. This instinct is strong enough to over-ride the memory of the cane toad making her sick. So it’s up to me to try to protect her from her own instincts. Sage can’t understand why I hold her back from the toads. Sometimes the expression in her eyes says ‘why aren’t you letting me have fun?’
I am smarter than my dog and I have the ability to reason cognitively. So I know that while my dog thinks I’m the meanest owner going around, I’m actually doing what’s in the best interests of her well-being.
This reminds me of the human condition and God. Our instincts are sinful, and often we fall right back into sin despite knowing that the consequences will be negative. God has given us guidelines to protect us from sin – from instructions about lying and adultery to stealing and murder. We know that such actions have disastrous consequences, yet sometimes our sinful instincts will over-ride our common sense. Do we look at God with that same baleful expression my dog has: ‘why aren’t you letting me having fun?’
God’s answer may be what I tell Sage: “Because I love you and I don’t want you to get hurt.” It may also be that God is smarter than we are and can see what will happen to us if we continually re-visit sin. There is freedom in surrendering our temptations and weaknesses to God and asking for His strength.
Have you experienced God’s guidance during a time of weakness?